Archive for June 8th, 2009


That Book Thing That’s Going Around

June 8, 2009

I rarely take part in these quiz memes that make the rounds of blogs and Facebook, but this one, which I’ve seen on a few of my friends’ site — including the always-fascinating world of Sherlock — made me stop and think “okay, just this once.” So here goes.

1. What author do you own the most books by?
Sadly, it’s Richard Laymon. I used to own thousands of books. Rooms full of books. But after the purge and the fire, I was left with almost nothing, and I like it that way. However, I collect old paperbacks of Laymon and Jack Ketchum. I have about 25 Laymon books right now. They aren’t very good. But I like bad horror novels.

2. What book do you own the most copies of?
Footprints Under The Window, The Hardy Boys, Franklin W. Dixon. Technically, Dixon is the answer to question No. 1, but as he was a house-name ghostwriter, I didn’t include him. I have hundreds of Hardy Boys books.

3. Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?
Nope. I think the preposition thing will soon be a forgotten element of English grammar and language, along with “whom” and “presently.” Language evolves.

4. What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
If Elaine from Seinfeld called me up, I would probably agree to a coffee. She isn’t from books, but she was at one time a book editor. So there’s that.

5. What book have you read the most times in your life?
Mr. X., by Peter Straub. There’s always something new to find in that multilayered Lovecraftian mindwarp.

6. What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?
The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis, specifically The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

7. What is the worst book you’ve read?
I’m tempted to say the Da Vinci Code, but there was a knockoff that came out around the same time by a guy called Lewis Purdue. The book had been written 20 years earlier, then badly edited to make it current to cash in on Dan Brown, so nothing made sense. I would tell you what it was called but I forget.

8. What is the best book you’ve read in the past year?
The best book tends to be the one I’m reading at the moment. And I read a lot, at least four books a week, often more. It’s hard to pick one as the best.

9. If you could force everyone you tagged to read one book, what would it be?
No tags for me, but I would recommend everyone read The Quincunx by Charles Palliser.

10. Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for literature?
That would be me, if I ever finished The Lightkeepers. But that isn’t likely. I’d like to see it go to someone from outside the smarty-lit set, like Michael Connelly or Ian Rankin, though. Just because a mystery book sold oodles in paperback doesn’t mean it’s pap.

11. What book would you most like to see made into a movie?
The Killing Floor, Lee Child’s first Jack Reacher novel. Actually, any Jack Reacher novel.

12. What book would you least like to see made into a movie?
I’m stealing Sherlock’s answer: ‘The Terror’ by Dan Simmons because I know they’d just turn it into a cheesy action flick. She’s right; this is a marvelous novel, but Hollywood would ignore the nuances and make it into an Arctic monster movie.

13. Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.
I don’t dream about other characters. I dream about myself in crazy adventures. And every one of the dozen novels I’ve written stems from one of those dreams. In fact, most of my books are set in a strange small town from my dreams, an amalgam of several places I’ve lived. I dreamed about it last night.

14. What is the most lowbrow book you’ve read as an adult?
I like to read V.C. Andrews novels. The early ones, not the ghostwritten later books. Just those early, creepy novels.

15. What is the most difficult book you’ve ever read?
Gravity’s Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon. I know I’m supposed to read it, but I can’t. And I’ve been trying for decades. I never make it past about 30 pages.

16. What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you’ve seen?
I have never seen a Shakespeare play. I’m Canadian. We prefer snowball fights and Bingo. I’ve read a lot of Shakespeare, though, and my favourite is The Tempest.

17. Do you prefer the French or the Russians?
My first ex-wife was French-Canadian. My second ex-wife was Russian-Canadian. I prefer the Irish.

18. Roth or Updike?
Roth. There’s a humour there that Updike doesn’t have, despite people thinking Updike is funnier. Maybe it’s just my sensibilities, though. Also, I love metafiction, and Roth explores that quite well.

19. David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?
I’ve only read a bit of Sedaris. Not my thing.

20. Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?
Chaucer, if forced to choose one, like in jail or something.

21. Austen or Eliot?
I liked Jane Austen when I had to, in high school. Eliot less so. Really, not my thing at all.

22. What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?
All of these smarty books the last few questions asked about.

23. What is your favorite novel?
Mr. X, Peter Straub. But that fluctuates.

24. Play?
The stage version of To Kill A Mockingbird, as performed at Stratford in 2007. Brilliant. We wept.

25. Poem?
Any of Edward Lear’s Nonsense Books. Brilliant and ridinkulous.

26. Essay?
The one I did in second-year Mass Media, explaining that hair metal was a reaction to the Cold War. I got an A from a hippy prof for making up tons of bullshit. This is the Canadian post-secondary education system at work.

27. Short story?
The Lottery. But the odds were good I would say that, right?

28. Work of non-fiction?
The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. Even though I no longer believe a word of its theories, it’s still a fascinating exploration of mystery and history. I also like biographies of classic rock bands, and books about ancient mysteries.

29. Who is your favorite writer?
Peter Straub. Hands down. A genius.

30. Who is the most overrated writer alive today?
Dan Brown. Hands down. A dink.

31. What is your desert island book?
The Bible. There are some kickass action scenes, and a lot of other very weird adventures.

32. And … what are you reading right now?
The Map That Changed The World, Simon Winchester; The Flood, Ian Rankin; The Lost Colony of the Templars, Steven Sora. And some comics.


Mail From Captain Kirk’s Home Town

June 8, 2009

I had a nice little surprise in my mailbox this morning: a postcard from my closest friend, Patrick, a.k.a. Chris P. Bacon. He has returned from several years in Australia this spring and is currently criss-crossing the United States, exploring every funky corner of our neighbour to the south. Those of you who are Patrick’s Facebook friends have been following along as he documents his journey in pictures; I think he’s up to album 16 of his Journey Through America series. There’s quality stuff there. And there’s a lot for him to see; as a top-level fan of comic books, Star Trek, country music and books you’ve never heard of, he’s seeking out places that resonate for him.

And sometimes for me, as evidenced by the postcard I received this morning. As fans know, Riverside, Iowa, was mentioned as the birthplace of James T. Kirk, and the town grabbed ahold of that fame. It now markets itself as Kirk’s birthplace, complete with tourism-oriented propaganda. There’s a Canadian town called Vulcan, Alberta, that does the same thing.

SPOILER: In the new movie’s rebooted continuity, Kirk wasn’t born in Riverside, but grew up there after his father’s death. And Starfleet so respected his father’s courage that the Utopia Planitia shipyards were apparently moved to Iowa, giving Kirk a chance to see the Enterprise being built when he rode his e-cycle through a field to enlist.

In related news, a package arrived at the same time as the postcard, even though it appeared to have been mailed a week earlier. This was a funky book about the cult of Elvis that Patrick apparently found in California. Star Trek, Elvis … oh yeah, he has a photo on Facebook right now of himself posing with the statue of Fonzie in Milwaukee. For the first time in recorded history, someone is jealous of Patrick, and it’s me.

My explorations of America are limited to the country’s eastern seaboard and parts of the South, and happened 20 years ago. Once I get this new thing with passports and whatever sorted out, it’s time for me and the gang to do some exploring, too.


Danzig: I’m The One

June 8, 2009

Another music video, this time with swamp magic:


The Cult: Wild Flower

June 8, 2009

While we’re on the subject of music videos …


Worst Music Video Ever Of The Week: Never Again, The Mission

June 8, 2009

I love this band. I love this song. The album where you’ll find it, Masque, is the perfect distillation of English music of the late 1980s/early 1990s: goth meets hard rock meets superfolk meets Madchester. It’s all there.

But this video is a big ball of cringe.

“Hey, you know what? For this video for big loud rock song about overindulgence and vice? We need a clown.”